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Parental Controls 5 Myths Busted

One of the #1 Questions we get asked at our DIGITAL WORLD workshops for Parents is ‘What’s the best parental control?’

This question is always tricky and sometimes difficult to answer.  The short answer would be ‘There ain’t no best parental control app’. 

Reasons for this:

  • When it comes to technology the landscape is always changing – rapidly. 
  • Children and teenagers are adept when it comes to tech. They’re always finding clever ways to work around parental controls or hack them.  So the parental controls aren’t always as effective as they should be.  
  • Not all parental controls are created equal.

So we thought it might be helpful to share 5 Myths when it comes to parental controls.

Myth #1:  All you need to do is install and set up the parental controls. Then forget about them!

Noooooo! Now we’re not saying you need to be checking it each and every day but you do need to have an understanding that the landscape is constantly changing when it comes to social media apps and popular websites.  But the instant it’s set up the kids are already trying to work around it.  Also new content is always making its way onto search engines eg ‘How can I disable XXX parental control’.  So regularly checking your settings on the parental control and tweaking these accordingly is the best way to ensure it remains effective – also it’s worth keeping in mind as the young person grows up you’ll want to adjust the parental control accordingly. 

Myth #2: Once I set up the parental control I don’t need to stress or worry about adult content.

It’s fair enough to say that parental control filters will help reduce some adult content getting accessed – but not all.  Depending on the parental control technology in use and the filters in place, some parental controls will for example, pre-block certain adult websites but not all.  This is the same for websites which may not be appropriate for younger users.  You as the parent, may still have to manually add any websites or apps you’d like the controls to restrict access to.  Also keep in mind that if a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is being used then this will circumvent any settings you have in place.  (See our video on VPN’s on our CoBabble app)

Myth #3: You don’t need to pay for parental controls. Free ones work just fine?

Devices in your home such as smartphones and tablets (both android and Apple) all now offer screen time tools.  iOS (Apple Devices) will give you, as a parent, the ability to set;

  • Downtime
  • App Limits
  • Communication Limits
  • Always Allowed
  • Content & Privacy Restrictions. 

It’s always a good idea to set these up on all devices which children and teenagers in your home have access to. This is what we call device-specific settings which adds an extra layer of coverage to the parental control solution you have in place.  The market is swamped with lots of freemium (free to start) offering 7-day trials etc or basic protection such as set-up screen-time boundaries.   

Myth #4: One parental control covers all bases?

When it comes to parental controls there are oh so many in the market and they claim to work across all devices and operating systems. 

Take iOS and Android for example –  both are different operating systems. This allows third-party applications access to certain permissions. This becomes a challenge when parents have children or teens in their home who have different devices, for example; Peter (17) has an iPhone 8, Holly (12) and Sophie (9) are both on Samsung devices.  In our experience, when selecting a parental control,  some work better on android devices over iOS. 

Therefore, in this scenario a layered approach is often a better approach.  Having two parental controls in operation giving you much better protective coverage over both operating systems.

Myth #5 Parental Controls are hard to use?

In our DIGITAL WORLD Parents Practical Workshops one of the biggest fears we come across is around the practical end of things.  Many parents struggle and,feel out of their depth.  . 

But you don’t need to be a technology wizard or expert to be able to set up parental controls in your home.  A lot of what is available on the market nowadays is much more user-friendly.  Most will give you the ability to do some or all of the following

  • Set up content filtering
  • Set up screen time limits
  • Block or restrict access to apps
  • Payment blocking
  • Text & email monitoring

We hope this blog has helped bust some of the myths around parental controls. 

If you’d like to keep yourself up to date with the latest trusted and credible online safety and tech info, get in touch to book a session at your school, organisation or group click here or to hear more about our video-based app CoBabble get in touch here

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Wayne Denner shares his knowledge & expertise on leading tech industry blog.

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